Friday, April 24, 2009

Every Math Teacher's Lament

Why do so many students, even college students, have difficulties with fractions? The author of this essay says it's because they don't have a strong foundation in basic arithmetic, and I agree.


miriam said...

Most interesting. I had to recollect how I did fractions eons ago, when I learned how. It was kind of fun.

I never liked arithmetic, but algebra was kind of fun. Like solving a crossword puzzle. It's an exercise in logic.

Darren said...

I've never heard that analogy before, but I really like it.

MiaZagora said...

My daughter had problems with fractions when she was in fourth grade (last year). I bought Life of Fred Fractions from Polkadot Publishing's web site (around 20 bucks with no shipping charge). I'm sure there are other things available, but it worked for us. Some libraries may have these books.

I loved arithmetic and algebra when I was in school.

My daughter didn't like arithmetic until we got the above book. She would get so frustrated. My mom mistakenly told my daughter, "I suppose you're just not a "math person" - but that's okay, because you're good at so many other things." After that my daughter would repeat this to me when she would get wrong answers.

I went on a mission to scrub this statement from her mind, and I succeded by using Life of Fred and reading math-related books from the library, and buying a few myself. It's her favorite subject now. A city with a good library will have books by Stuart J. Murphy, Loreen Leedy, Amy Axelrod, and others.

There are also *fun* books such as "The Adventures of Penrose the Mathematical Cat" by Theoni Pappas, but this is more in the category of "math recreations" as it deals with triangle numbers, fractals, surface tension and such instead of basic arithmetic. My second grader enjoys the Penrose stories, even if she doesn't understand them yet.

Sorry to blabber on, but this is a passion of mine.

rightwingprof said...

Nonsense! It's because they don't have the proper 21st century critical thinking skills! Don't you pay attention to education research?


PeggyU said...

Yep. It's a right royal pain to back up and teach fractions when you are working on, for example, trig identities.

I'd say fractions, order of operations, distribution, and factoring are the trouble spots I seem to see most often.